Concept

 Out to See is broadly based on experiences and stories about common psychological issues and addiction. The aim of the game would be to evoke feelings of empathy through identification, that would result in positive self-reflection and spark a conversation about the importance of mental health, hopefully rendering the topic less taboo. I believe that the nature of games have a lot of yet untapped potential, especially when it comes to more serious things than jumping, racing, battling and searching for collectibles. This proposal is for a game that would be backed up by psychoanalysis and potentially help people face mental health problems through meaningful gameplay.

 As an example for such a game, I asked my friend Antony to share his story and took five issues he has been dealing with. Through listening and being a part of the conversation, my aim was to design an interactive narrative structure that would reflect how these issues seem to be hailing from one another and feel like a vicious cycle. Each scenario, excluding the beginning and two possible endings, is based on subjects of addiction, fear of rejection, social insecurity, self-guilt and feelings of being unlovable.

Function

 This is a schematic of how the proposal works. Below it you can see the initial sketch with scenarios named in numbers – this was done before I began visualising the outcome or writing the plotline for the purpose of coherency. 

A poem by Antony Hamilton

If we’re not for everyone
Then who is there for me
I thought I made it through the storm
But I’m cast out to the sea
And no one is around no more
Adrift in melancholy
Now my open wound is getting sore
And I’m looking out to sea

I see the lights of a distant shore
They beckon me to go
But the voices tell me I’m a bore
Who no one wants to know
So I sit alone and sing my songs
As the waves crash by in threes
Rolling thick and faster now
I’m looking out to sea

The planes fly by
and empty my illusions of a clear sky
And I see straight through starry night
as the heavens call to me
I curl up small and lay my head
on a bleach white towel I call a bed
and I close my eyes
For the final time
As I look out to the sea

One big crash is all it takes
A rocky patch on a muddy lake
When the wind picks up and my sails all shake
And the water swallows me
Finally I feel my peace
My mind is clear of all disease
I take just one final look
But the sea looks straight through me

While these are only eight instances, they produce more than 20 sequences, assuming that you don’t restart the game when you fail and don’t make the same choice twice.

Side bonus: an attempt to graphically visualise the path work of the research artefact. There are 90 possible sequences through which to read the research. 

Illustrations & Plot

 The illustrative work was made to support the narrative and help visualise the atmosphere of the plot (special thank you to Antony for helping me with grammar and writing style!). In short, the story is about a character, which you play for from a first person’s perspective, who finds themselves stuck on a coast populated by deceitful sirens. The narration explains your relationship with them and the character’s battle between what he believes to be right and wrong. You also have a companion named Creature who, when playing for the first time, doesn’t seem to be your friend, yet follows you around. All of the characters and the environment are hyperbolic symbols – the coast being the issue, the sirens – invasive bad thoughts, Creature – inner voice, the sea – potential dangers and so on. 

 The descriptive nature of the plot also meant that illustrations have to support bits of text, therefore my design process began from laying out the story and making sure that colours and the artwork don’t render the text illegible. For this reason, I chose dark monochromatic colour schemes, bright text and a slight shadow underneath important elements. I also chose a contrasting pairing of fonts to separate the text from buttons. 

I decided to illustrate the proposal in vectors and gradients for clean lines and an uncluttered aesthetic. Nevertheless, sometimes vector graphics can look very polished, which I believe to clash slightly with my intended theme, and thus added slight roughness and a grain effect to the artwork, which also helped with the legibility of the text. 

Sound

 To enhance the experience and help create a desired atmosphere, I made a decision to add diegetic sounds to each of the scenarios. After collecting samples of various noises and tones to create the desired ambience, I attempted to edit them together. In both of the endings, the sounds reflect what’s happening in the story, although that might not work for everyone as I considered the average reading speed.

Web Based Outcome

 Finally, to bring all the elements together, I thought of a solution to host the project on a website, as it allows the intended functionality and accessibility. I should note that the functioning code for the proposal was not written by me; my brother helped me bring it together and I got a chance to place the scenario in javascript templates and alter the css stylesheet. The rest of the website was made entirely by myself, using desired themes and plugins. I have used the same font families to support the artefact and generated abstract patterns from the vector illustrations for the overall look.